Three Canadian police officers have been charged in the shooting death of an 18-month-old child in November 2020.
The charges were announced following a nearly two year investigation by Ontario police watchdog, the Special Investigation Unit (SIU).
The boy, Jameson Shapiro, was killed when cops shot at the truck driven by his father following a report of a parental abduction.
The police union say they are “fully supporting” the three officers.
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) constables Nathan Vanderheyden, Kenneth Pengelly and Grayson Cappus each face a single count of manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death in relation to Jameson’s shooting, the SIU announced on Wednesday evening.
They are scheduled to appear in court on 6 October.
The incident took place on the morning of 26 November 2020 after cops received a call claiming the boy’s 33-year-old father had abducted him from his home in Trent Lakes, Ontario, a town about 170km (105 miles) northeast of Toronto.
OPP officers spotted the pickup truck being driven by Jameson’s father in nearby Kawartha Lakes. During an attempt to stop the truck there was a collision and one police officer was seriously injured.
An “interaction” with the father followed, according to the SIU, and the three police officers opened fire.
The father was shot and later died in hospital. Jameson, who was in the pickup, was also shot and died at the scene. The SIU said in February 2021 that forensic evidence indicated that the boy was shot by police.
The SIU has said four weapons were recovered from the scene during its investigation – three police firearms and one handgun from the pickup.
In a statement, the union representing the three officers called the incident “a tragic circumstance for all involved”.
“Every single day police officers make split second decisions that most will never have to make and wouldn’t want to make,” said OPP Association president Rob Stinson.
“This case is now before the courts. Everyone is entitled to due process.”
OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said in a statement that it is “devastating when an innocent life is lost during an incident” and said the force would not comment further as the case is before the courts.